When Children’s Memorial Hospital moved from its Lincoln Park location—its home for 130 years—to Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood in June 2012, it left behind a parcel of prime real estate. After submitting credentials detailing its experience working on green mixed-use, transit-oriented projects for more than a decade, McCaffery Interests was selected from eight candidates to develop the site. Armed with a site-reuse feasibility study by the City of Chicago, the group plans to take ownership of the property in late 2012.
Lincoln Park is home to a university serving more than 25,000 students and a 68,000-plus population, according to the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce / Nielsen Solution Center. Yet the neighborhood stood to lose a significant amount of people—approximately 1.5 million patients, doctors, and other individuals per year, according to the hospital’s estimates—when Children’s Memorial closed.
Any new development needed to attract consumers without vastly increasing the neighborhood’s number of cars.
“This site is in a highly dense area with a lot of traffic and a lot of pedestrians,” says McCaffery president Edmund Woodbury. “We wanted to reduce the impact of automobile traffic.” McCaffery wasn’t alone in its concerns about the environment. More than a half-dozen vocal community groups raised questions about how the renovation would affect the environment and several early-20th-century-era buildings on the site.
Several aspects of the property, including its proximity to a city-designated bike route, along with the addition of bike storage and shower facilities, should help reduce car use and encourage employees to pedal their way to work. McCaffery also hopes the selection of retail tenants will entice locals to stop by. “If you’re providing convenient goods and services for the residential community,” explains Pamela Austin, McCaffery’s project manager of development, “they don’t have to drive [elsewhere].”
During the project’s early planning stages, McCaffery met about 30 times with local groups to hear their thoughts on the preservation of the site’s older buildings and new development. “Developers sometimes say, ‘What could I do with the land if I tore everything down?’” Woodbury says. “Our view involves looking at how some facilities can be creatively reused.” Indeed, McCaffery hopes to keep more than half the buildings on the site, adding modern systems to increase energy efficiency. New and renovated structures also will receive eco-friendly features like green roofs, which provide water-conservation capabilities and a scenic spot for residents to relax that benefit both the environment and surrounding community.
“We want to make the roof into something that interests people and is an amenity to the development,” Woodbury says, who credits green design elements such as lush roof systems with providing the construction industry a new source of eco-friendly inspiration. “The development community would be building the same buildings today that we were 20 years ago if we weren’t challenged by these new green features,” Woodbury says. “They’re good for the environment—and for developers.”